For many, the luggage that you take on a holiday is purely functional. The colour scheme and design doesn’t matter. It’s all about fitting in everything you need and making sure it’s the right size in line with the airline’s size requirements.
Some opt for smaller sizes and lighter materials so that carrying it around the airport is much easier; others choose something bigger and sturdier for long trips or if they have a case full of gifts.
Whichever camp you’re in, consider this: luggage is fastly becoming a major fashion accessory in almost the same way as a handbag. If you ask me, it’s the influence of those #airportoutfit photos on Instagram.
Whether you’re taking a mini break with a carry-on or going on a longer vacation overseas, let’s take a look at what needs to be considered when picking your perfect luggage.
Unique Design Features
Since the recent travel boom, more designers have found themselves drawn to luggage, seeking to perfect the accessory both for practicality and style.
It’s no longer just a case (no pun intended!) of colour and size. Now there are different shapes, patterns, materials and special accents across the luggage space.
From luxury materials to embossed details, these unique features also help you spot your bag on the baggage carousel from a mile away, so it’s a win-win.
Luggage as a Stylish Statement
Even if you dress down your airport outfit or go with something simple like leggings, a sweatshirt and trainers, the right case can instantly elevate the look.
A neutral outfit paired with a neutral case is understatedly chic. That said, you can also use your luggage to add a pop of colour or a designer-inspired print that will make other travellers stop and state.
What to look for when buying luggage 101: practicality, regardless of aesthetic. Remember that you’ll need to carry or trolley your bag from the airport doors to the check-in (or plane) and then back to your accommodation.
The most important decision you’ll make is whether to go for a hard shell or softer case or bag. Note this:
- Soft cases are usually lighter and more adaptable — often, you can manipulate them to fit into those tighter spaces like the overheads or under the plane seat
- Hard cases offer more protection for your belongings and usually come with wheels for easier transport — but they do tend to be bigger in size and heavier
I personally prefer hard cases for durability. Although, I always make sure my luggage has wheels so it’s effortless to move around.
Size Impacting Weight
Next, it’s the size of your luggage. If you’ve got big bags weighing usually 20kg or more, the chances are they’ll be checked in and can be of any size, within reason.
Where size matters most is with hand luggage. Each airline has different specifications, which is why the top tips on hand luggage and checked luggage is to know the size and weight restrictions. Some have special clauses for different seating arrangements, but you can try to get around these by optimising your baggage weight, which is tip number three for perfecting luggage.
Consider that the bigger the case, the more likely you’ll pack it full causing it to be heavier. If you’re a seasoned traveller like me, you probably adopt the “less is more” rule. (I’ve made so many mistakes with luggage and have stories where wheels have come off at the airport or the zips have busted so my belongings were leaking out.)
That’s why I love to build travel capsule wardrobes and take smaller luggage so you can still look stylish but also make life easier for yourself with a lighter load.
Simply check your airline’s website to find baggage restrictions for your journey. Sometimes they email them to you as part of your flight confirmation. As a general rule, though, try to avoid exceeding 21 inches in height, 16 inches in width and nine inches in depth for carry-on luggage.
Security and Resistance
Some may consider having zips with loopholes for padlocks as important, but so too is the material. Opt for tough, resistant and high-quality materials, especially for soft bags, so they don’t rip while being thrown from place to place.
Think about water resistance too. It could rain at any time you’re not in the airport, and the last thing you want is for the luggage to leak any water onto your clothes or electronics. Protect your belongings at all costs!
Finally, for functionality, you could also consider hopping aboard the smart luggage train. Some now come with electronic locks, app-enabled controls and the ability to charge your devices. Cool, right?
Even so, with these new inventions, be sure to check if they’ll be permitted as carry-on luggage. You don’t want to show up at the airport and then get a shock because your new toy won’t be allowed on the plane with you.
Popular Luggage Options
One of the luxury powerhouses that’s become almost the epitome of fashionable luggage is Louis Vuitton. The Keepall Bandoulière 50 as a carry-on is iconic.
Other popular options are:
- The Carl Freidrik Palissy Leather Weekend Bag featured in the hit show Succession — it’s just as lightweight as it is luxurious in material and design
- The Magnum Eco Spinner by Samsonite is a hard-case suitcase, stylish in its shape and pattern, and comes in novel but understated colour schemes
- Globe Trotter’s security-focused Centenary is a fine choice for a distinctly 1920s aesthetic, as is the rather similar vintage design from SteamLine Luggage with The Editor
For more budget-friendly options, I love Tripp and even high street stores like NEXT and John Lewis.
Consider this: getting a matching bag and suitcase or luggage set will only make it look more expensive. (You’ve seen the LV ones all over the likes of Molly-Mae’s Instagram!)
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Final Thoughts on What to Look For When Buying Luggage
Knowing what to look for when buying luggage can be challenging if you’re new to travelling or you’ve had the same case for years. It’s worth taking the time to find the right option for you, especially because it’s an investment piece that will last a long time.
Remember, your luggage can be just as fashionable as it is functional. You don’t have to stick with the same old boring suitcase. Look for various patterns, textures and accents that still align with your personal style so it looks like an extension of your airport outfit.
Neutrals are timelessly versatile, and a simple design made from sturdy materials often looks the most luxurious. If yours has a complex pattern, keep your airport outfit minimal to let it take centre stage.
Happy luggage shopping!